Overtime, each of every [most] successive African governments have been building massive schools, more like shacks, and proudly boasting about their success in improving education. It appears, they equate school buildings with education; and the more, or even the better the buildings – in their minds, the better the education. This is what they, therefore, promote as “improvement” in education.
Whether they genuinely believe that or not, is a different matter; but one that can be critically examined by investigating and asking where officials of African governments prefer to send their own children for education. But it helps to emphasise that, a building is not what educates; and therefore, it’s not and should not be the measure of improved education, let alone “quality” [of] education.
It takes more than a building to have quality education. A building is a facility, a necessary facility, without a doubt and the quality is equally necessary; but a building, in and of itself alone, does not represent the quality of education. Only in an Orwellian echo chamber is that kind of twisted logic promoted.
Education and the quality of education, start from the family – the basic social unit of society. The quality of education or the apparent lack of it, is largely the responsibility of, and therefore reflected in the family. It’s the family, and collectively society, that primarily educates – best or worst. Choose what resonates with you and your experience(s).
But for a society to educate best, it must have – and therefore not be worried with – provisions of basic necessities. It must be at the level where basic necessities of life are guaranteed, to have a mind that can think and is capable of thinking educationally and can be educated without being preoccupied and therefore affected by worries of basic provisions.
Most African societies are far from being at that level. And it would be irresponsible and a gross misrepresentation of the realities of Africa’s socioeconomic challenges, hence, a promotion of fantasies from cloud cuckoo land, to even remotely suggest they are.
African governments build schools they conveniently confuse for education – an education system – whose mealy-mouthed and well-paid officials will proudly and publicly praise; yet, privately, express contempt for and do not trust to send their own progeny to be educated by and in it. They demonstrate their contempt and lack of trust in their own education system by sending their own progeny abroad for [an] education.
A significant size of the so-called African ‘elite‘ – the political class who are effectively and largely, in most cases, with a few exceptions, the business and economic elite – prefer to, and would rather, send their progeny to be educated in North America and Europe. This is partly because this group of financially and economically privileged Africans (ignoring the murky dynamics of their privileges), think the North American and European education (system) is the best.
That thinking may well have its merits, but fundamentally, the question is: best from whose perspective? Best for whom and for what purpose?
This thinking alone is rooted in – and therefore is the outcome of – a colonial mindset that conceives and frames African ambitions and aspirations – of socioeconomic development and otherwise – from and within a colonial perspective. In and of itself, this colonial perspective is the outcome of a colonial education (system), the primary purpose of which was – and still is – to colonise, indoctrinate and subsequently falsify the African mind – turn it into an oasis of African subordination to colonial (European) norms; because Africa’s colonial education is European normative.
Even African history, particularly written – mostly by Europeans and colonially educated Africans – is European normative.
Consequently, the colonially educated and falsified African mind conceives its ambitions from a colonial perspective; seeks inspirations and solutions from and within a colonial framework – mainly and preferably from colonial corridors of social indoctrination, otherwise called “education” – while seeking and begging for colonial validation and largesse. It’s a mindset of dependence and not independence!
This is partly because this group of financially and economically privileged Africans do not – understandably – trust their own education (system) to equip their own progeny with what they perceive, in their colonial minds, as necessary knowledge and education to realise their ambitions and aspirations.
This is an important factor that reveals a lot about Africa, and why – even after so many decades of so-called “political independence“, with Africans running the colonial administrative machine – the education system is not at the level the colonial regimes left it; but has, for the most part, indeed, gone to the dogs.
It demonstrates a troubling contradiction to the purpose – and possibly ideals – of “independence” in Africa.
While the colonialists handed the political and managerial affairs to Africans and, presumably, left Africa to Africans; Africans on the other hand, preferred – and still prefer – to glorify all things colonial. Consequently, they run to the colonialists – mostly according to the order of and preferably their former colonial masters – for [a little] colonial education.
They do this, so they are able to – and can – fit into the colonial machine (order) they have maintained and continue to perpetuate while pretending to be independent. This is the tragedy of the (colonially) educated African mind; especially of those in (better) positions and with means to change the (education) landscape in Africa.
They have looked at the African education (system), possibly – and most likely – went through it, tasted it and didn’t like how it tastes; and therefore, cannot bear to have their own progeny be poisoned on the same taste.
They have possibly – and most likely – gone through it or been close to it and know how it smells; and do not like its smell. They aren’t comfortable with the smell; possibly it stinks like an open toilet on a clogged sewage. Because of that personal and first hand experience with their education system; they cannot bear to put their own progeny through such psychological torture, the assured effect of which, so they convince themselves, rightly, is mental retardation.
So, to save their own progeny from mental retardation, they rather choose to send them abroad – preferably and commonly – in North America and Europe for education. To be educated by North American and European educators into the North American and European socioeconomic and educational value systems, effectively churning out North Americans and Europeans, only African in names.
Many will rationalise this, by arguing that there’s nothing wrong in people providing the best education to their children. While the premise of that argument is valid, and while the argument may have its merits, it contravenes the reason for education and therefore begs to ask: best from whose perspective? Best for whom? Best for what purpose?
What is the purpose of education in any society?
What is the purpose of a foreign education in any society?
What – and whose – interests does a foreign education serve in any society?
A foreign education to members of one society, should seek to enhance, enrich the outlook (worldview) of such individuals. It should be (seek) to complement, not to supplant, their own society’s education; which, ideally, should be distinct in its own and capable of exchanging its (own) values, of exporting and pushing the influence of its own value-system to foreign value systems.
However, this is not the case in Africa. The purpose of foreign (colonial) education in Africa and for Africans, is to colonise and falsify the African mind, imparting a foreign value-system by replacing African values with its own values and norms.
So, when the African ‘elite’ choose to have their progeny educated in the North American and European education and value-system; they are effectively creating – at least, in their mind and belief – an ‘elite’ and ‘superior’ class of foreign educated Africans who are likely to dominate and occupy influential positions of power in society, inevitably propagating – and in some, if not most likely all, cases imposing – their acquired foreign values (value system) in society and in the overall governance of society through government.
By this, they are effectively – whether by conscious design or not – creating a social class divide, of and between a [future] small ruling class, predominantly foreign educated; and the ruled majority hoi polloi – the servant class, who are the domestically (nationally) and poorly educated.
It is the creation of a small social “master” class and a majority “servant” class through and by a system of unequal educational opportunities.
A government building schools and an education system whose own officials do not have faith in to educate their own progeny, and/or produce the best quality of educated citizens such government desires; should seriously think about and examine the long-term social implications of such policy failures. Because (the outcome of) this will predictably and inevitably be both educational and economic apartheid. An unfortunate and surely socially undesirable outcome, with the potential to create massive social inequalities.